Grace For The Journey
Today we conclude our four part study on expressing God’s love to others. Monday we began to look at what love has to do with our Christian faith. In that blog we saw that love is one of the defining marks of a Christian. Tuesday and Wednesday we looked at what the Bible teaches on how God’s love is to be expressed out in our lives. Today I want to wrap this Biblical teaching on the topic, understanding that we have by no means exhausted this truth.
I recognize that the kind of love we have been talking about is the ideal and we live in a sinful world that presents us with many difficult situations that require prayerful wisdom to obey Jesus’ command. With this reality in mind, I want to offer a few seeds for thought to answer some meaningful questions that have been raised by some . . .
Does loving someone require that I like that person?
Does it mean that I must become a close friend with a difficult person?
By looking at Jesus’ example, I have to say, “Not necessarily.”
- While He loved all people, He did not give His time equally to all.
He spent the most time with His disciples, but even among the twelve, He was closer to Peter, James, and John. And John is the only one called, “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (John 13:1, 23).
- Jesus didn’t even spend time with His half-brothers when He had the opportunity.
He could have gone up to the feast with them (John 7:1-10), which would have meant several days of traveling together. He could have used that time to influence them, since they had not yet believed in Him. But He let them go alone and then He went later by Himself.
- Jesus also loved His enemies, the Jewish leaders, but He constantly provoked and confronted them.
He instructed His disciples to shake the dust off their feet and move on if people rejected them and their message (Matthew 10:14). Apparently, that was the loving thing to do, since Jesus never would have commanded them not to love their enemies (Matthew 5:55).
Also, since biblical love seeks the highest good for the other person, namely, that he come to know Christ by faith and grow in their faith to become more like Christ, love sometimes requires confronting the person with his sin or letting him experience the consequences of his sin so that he learns to hate it (Acts 8:18-24; 13:6-12; 1 Corinthians 5:1-2, 13; 2 Corinthians 2:4, 6-8). Love does not enable a person to continue in sinful or irresponsible ways. Love tries to help a person learn to be obedient to God and responsible to “bear his own load” (Galatians 6:5).
I don’t say any of this to give anyone a cop out from loving difficult people, but rather, as Paul put it in Philippians 1:9, my aim is “that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment.” I encourage you to meditate often on the characteristics of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7, “Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” Then go through Paul’s letters and his actions in the Book of Acts and see how he worked out those qualities in real situations.
Growing in love requires lifelong effort. You will experience many failures. But your aim should be to love others even as Jesus loves you.
This is God’s Word For Today … This Is Grace For The Journey
Rest and Rejoice in this eternal truth!
Ephesians 4:7 – “But to each one of us grace has been given as Christ apportioned it.”
Hebrews 4:16 – “Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”